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written by Kurt Gramoll
This item is an interactive demonstration of the topic of significant digits. It computes the error that can be introduced by rounding during a calculation. Users input numbers and operations and select the number of significant digits for rounding the inputs. The result of the calculation is computed using the actual and rounded inputs, along with the percent difference between two. Users may select from addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division for the operations.

This item is part of a collection of instructional materials for introductory engineering courses on six topics: Statics, Dynamics, Fluids, Thermodynamics, Calculus, and Multimedia. See related items on this page for a link to the complete collection.

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Subjects Levels Resource Types
General Physics
- Measurement/Units
Other Sciences
- Mathematics
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Instructional Material
= Interactive Simulation
= Tutorial
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Free access
© 2004 Kurt Gramoll
distance learning, error, error in measurement, interactive tutorial, significant figures, simulation, tutorial
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created August 12, 2009 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
August 19, 2009 by Bruce Mason
Last Update
when Cataloged:
June 30, 2009
Other Collections:

This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.

Topic: Measurement and the Language of Physics
Unit Title: Applying Measurement in Physics

How small is the error between two and three significant digits? How about three and four digits? Can the error be ignored? This activity would be a great choice for students who have already been exposed to the basics of significant figures. They enter a number, then select the number of significant digits from 1-5. The resultant numbers are automatically displayed, plus the percent error.

Link to Unit:
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Record Link
AIP Format
K. Gramoll, (2004), WWW Document, (https://ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=st&chap_sec=01.1&page=sim).
K. Gramoll, OU Engineering Media Lab: Significant Digits, (2004), <https://ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=st&chap_sec=01.1&page=sim>.
APA Format
Gramoll, K. (2009, June 30). OU Engineering Media Lab: Significant Digits. Retrieved August 19, 2017, from https://ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=st&chap_sec=01.1&page=sim
Chicago Format
Gramoll, Kurt. OU Engineering Media Lab: Significant Digits. June 30, 2009. https://ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=st&chap_sec=01.1&page=sim (accessed 19 August 2017).
MLA Format
Gramoll, Kurt. OU Engineering Media Lab: Significant Digits. 2004. 30 June 2009. 19 Aug. 2017 <https://ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=st&chap_sec=01.1&page=sim>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Author = "Kurt Gramoll", Title = {OU Engineering Media Lab: Significant Digits}, Volume = {2017}, Number = {19 August 2017}, Month = {June 30, 2009}, Year = {2004} }
Refer Export Format

%A Kurt Gramoll
%T OU Engineering Media Lab: Significant Digits
%D June 30, 2009
%U https://ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=st&chap_sec=01.1&page=sim
%O application/shockwave

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source
%A Gramoll, Kurt
%D June 30, 2009
%T OU Engineering Media Lab: Significant Digits
%V 2017
%N 19 August 2017
%8 June 30, 2009
%9 application/shockwave
%U https://ecourses.ou.edu/cgi-bin/ebook.cgi?doc=&topic=st&chap_sec=01.1&page=sim

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The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

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